Category Archives: Water Quality

Upcoming Public Hearing on Nelson Water Sale

In its issue for May 24, 2018, the Nelson County Times reported, Public hearing set on water sale as Service Authority, Atlantic Coast Pipeline near $3.5M deal. The Nelson County Service Authority’s Board of Directors made no decision on a contract with ACP, but at their recent meeting moved forward in the process by setting a public hearing on the water rates set forth in the potential contract, which could result in up to $3.5 million for the Authority. The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. June 21, 2018, at the Service Authority Administrative Building, 620 Cooperative Way, Arrington, VA 22922, in the Colleen Industrial Park.

According to George Miller, the Service Authority’s Executive Director, under the preliminary, “not yet” finalized contract ACP would pay a rate of more than 10 cents per gallon, which is 10 times what all other Service Authority customers in the area pay. Sourcing the water from Lake Monacan at Stoney Creek, the Service Authority would contract to provide 200 gallons per minute, up to 40,000 gallons of water per day from July 2018 through June 2020 at a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. ACP would pay $500,000 for installation and connection of a 3-inch meter (compared to approximately $64,000 connection fee to other customers for a similar meter). Miller said a contract of this size would provide a little more breathing room when it comes to dealing with the authority’s monetary obligations.

The Nelson County Times article notes that, “The contract specifies provision of water is subject to Wintergreen’s water conservation and emergency action plan, which would prioritize the provision of potable water for human consumption in the event of an emergency water shortage.”

The water would primarily be used for the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) process that would bore a path for the pipeline under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail at Reeds Gap, but could be used for other construction as well. ACP says purchasing water from the Service Authority would eliminate the need to haul in water every day, and that about “10 trips by tankers per day would be eliminated, reducing traffic and wear on Nelson roads.” DEQ requires that all water be treated before discharge, and ACP says that “water that will be used as part of the HDD drilling fluid will be ‘hauled off.'”

No information was provided on how many tanker trips per day would be required to “haul off” the water, nor on where the water would be discharged.

A relevant letter to the editor asks Nelson County officialdom, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, to Think before selling our water.

Dominion’s Desperate Efforts at Deception


At a recent breakfast banquet for its retired employees that Dominion sponsored in Stoney Creek at Wintergreen, they asked everyone who attended to sign letters (see above and below) before they left. Dominion is resorting to this kind of propaganda in order to deceive our public officials and make them believe the general public is in support of this pipeline. Notice the letters do not state that the person signing is a retired employee.

Rain, Then Mud, Mud, and More Mud

Photo by Emily Beckner Guilliams

We’ve had a rainy week, as we sometimes do. Not a 100-year rain, not a 50-year rain, not even a 25-year rain. Just a normal rainy week, with normal thunderstorms. And, not surprisingly, when pipeline companies try do work on steep terrain, the slopes slide.

On May 18, 2018, Cahas Mountain Rd in Franklin County was covered in sediment after tree clearing by Mountain Valley Pipeline crews. Locals on the scene say the mud was 12” to 18” thick. The road was closed. The nearby creek was running red. The mud blocked traffic, rerouted school-buses and put the lives, land and water of Franklin County citizens at risk. Sediment-laden runoff filled local creeks to the point where cattle would not drink from them.

Environmental experts and concerned citizens have – since 2014 – been telling FERC, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Governor of Virginia that this kind of destruction will be the result of both Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction on our steep mountain slopes.

It is particularly distressing that MVP said, “Initial reviews indicate the controls were installed properly; however, the circumstances appear unusual and an ultimate cause is under investigation.” MVP seems to imply that an ordinary rainy week with ordinary thunderstorms constitutes “unusual circumstances.”

If you live near the MVP or ACP path please document, date, gps coordinate, and time stamp photos to send to DEQ. Please report flood damage (time-stamp and date your photos if possible!) to the Mountain Valley Watch (833-689-2824) or to Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (csi@abralliance.org, 877-GO2ABRA (877-462-2272)). You may also notify:

    •  Ralph Northam, Governor (804-786-2211)
    • John McCutcheon, DEQ Stormwater Compliance Manager (804-527-5117)
    • Ann Regn, DEQ spokeswoman (804-698-4442)
    • Jerome A. Brooks, Manager of the DEQ Office of Water Compliance (804-698-4403)
    • Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources (804-786-0044)
    • We also suggest you contact your local government officials and insist that they report this to the officials responsible (such as the DEQ, VDOT, etc) for monitoring and compliance.

And here in Nelson County, Richard Averitt made this quick video to show the effects of the rain in Nelson County. We are facing an unprecedented risk to our communities. Please help. Look at the sediment problems from this one normal spring rain along the mountain valley pipeline route and imagine that same thing here in our communities and hundreds of communities throughout our state.

Send Comments to State Water Control Board Before May 30

Send your comments to the State Water Control Board before the May 30, 2018, deadline. Your comments are especially important in light of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit vacated earlier this week by the court. As deficiencies in federal permits come to light, the State Water Board’s review of Nationwide Permit 12 is crucial. A condition of the Nationwide Permit 12 is that developers hold a valid biological opinion and take statement from the Fish and Wildlife Service, a permit that is now invalid.

Where to send your comments? What to say?  Specific streams or wetlands to mention? See our May 4, 2018, post.

Northam “Either Ill-Informed – Or He Is Lying”

Writing in Blue Virginia on May 13, 2018, Stacy Lovelace comments on the statement regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), released by the Governor’s office on May 8 and claiming that “…the Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing proposed land disturbance and construction activities along every foot of the pipeline routes, including each proposed wetland and stream crossing.”

But, she says, “By claiming that the DEQ is reviewing each wetland and stream crossing, the Governor is either ill-informed — or he is lying.”

She points out that, “Last year, the DEQ made the decision to waive its right to do site-specific waterbody analysis, and decided instead to utilize the blanket Army Corp of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12. DEQ Water Permitting Division Director, Melanie Davenport, admitted at the April 12 State Water Control Board meeting that the DEQ had not done a site-specific waterbody crossing analysis because the agency did not have the resources. At the same meeting, the State Water Control Board voted to open a comment period addressing the fact that site-specific waterbody analysis had not been done. And if that isn’t enough to prove the untruthful nature of the Governor’s statement, documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request provide tangible proof.”

As an example, using emails and documents acquired via the FOIA request, she compiles a timeline of certain stormwater management plans for the MVP during the weeks in March leading up to their approval.

Prior to the timeline she constructs and thus not included in it, “a document between the DEQ and the contracted engineers acknowledges that some of the karst regions of the pipeline spreads had only received a ‘desktop review.’ In other words, MVP did not go to the areas of karst and perform field evaluations before submitting water quality protection plans for those same areas.

“The DEQ has clearly not performed complete reviews for every foot of the Mountain Valley Pipeline route, much less every waterbody crossing. The agency is using the same frightening methods with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In documents acquired via the same FOIA request, engineers’ comments indicate that (among other things), not all wetlands, stream crossings, surface waters, and karst features are included on plans. Again, these issues are occurring months after the DEQ advised to the State Water Control Board to grant the ACP’s 401 certification.”

Read the full Blue Virginia article here.

And send your comments on waterbody crossings and water quality standards to DEQ, urging them to require a stream-by-stream review – deadline is May 30, 2018. Instructions for commenting here.